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Santiago Botero - Interview
By Podofdonny
Date: 8/19/2002
Santiago Botero - Interview

Jakob Duma has kindly sent in this translated interview from the great portalciclista site - always worth a visit.

Interview with Santiago Botero.

Introducing one of the big revelations of this year's Tour de France, the 30 year old Colombian Santiago Botero (Kelme - Costa Blanca).

So Santiago, how is your situation with Kelme right now?

Well for the time being its good, Kelme have been very satisfied with my results and currently Iím concentrating in getting into great shape for the upcoming Vuelta a Espana, and world championships in Belgium.

Looking at a guy like L. Armstrong, his only major goal is the Tour de France, but you seem to be aiming to peak in two major tours in one year?

For me the Tour de France is also my main objective; it's the most important race in the world and that goes for me too, but for Kelme the Vuelta is another highlight and our sponsors require the team to participate in both.

What is your opinion about the Raimondas Rumsas situation?

It is something that opaques the image of cycling, and a shame since the Tour seems to have been completely clean of any situations, but to rise to the podium in this way has lost all its meaning and Raimondas has still never been tested positive in any samples in his whole career, so there's really not anything to discuss.

Technologically is Kelme at the same level as the other teams?

Yes it's very good. Logically, Kelme's technology depends on the budget, and teams such as US Postal, Banesto, Telecom or Once and the other teams, that specifically specialises in technology in cycle sport, are not way ahead of us here at Kelme.

What do you say to the fact that your team manager Vicente Belda has named you as the biggest favourite for the Vuelta?

Well it's very typical of him saying something like that but with riders as A.Casero and M.Pantani it will be extremely difficult, and after the tour I donít now what state of form I will arrive in Spain with, but I will certainly give it my best shot.

There are numerous rumours linking you to another team; how is that situation coming along?

Well, it's true I have been talking to some other teams, but it all depends about Kelme's future; they have offered me a one year extension which Iím currently considering; if Kelme stops sponsoring I will be looking for some large team like US Postal, Rabobank, Telecom, Once. A team concentrating on the major tours.

On the Les Deux Alpes a Colombian fan held out your national flag. What did it make you feel in that crucial moment with that beautiful victory?

In the last meters I just wanted to enjoy the rush from the fans, when I saw the flag I started thinking about the country, my family in MedellŪn and thanking god for everything that he has ever given me. It was also a very strong morale boost after my defeat on the Mont. Ventoux stage.

There was a great deal of solitude within the team?

Sure, it was a good win for the team; we had suffered from some bad luck, by wounds, by falls, by abandonments and I could not count on the necessary aid of of the team, but thatís just how it sometimes goes.

This year you prepared for the tour in Colombia. What have been the statements of the Kelme technicians?

They always supported that idea, after seeing the results last year in the mountains, we arrived to the conclusion that it would be best for me to prepare in Colombia as I have always done with the exception of last year. And the results show.

What did you lack to reach the Podium?

We did lack a little bit in the team time trial where we were too far behind Once and the other rivals for the podium, but in general terms I am still very satisfied.

How about the worlds in Zolder?

It would be a great deal of illusion, the time trial suits my characteristics and I will be aiming for the podium.

You seem to get better year by year?

I have surprised myself a little with the results that I have reached, and each year I require myself to do better than before; thatís the best way for me to keep going. Besides the fondness for the race, my ultimate goal is to reach the podium in the Tour in the coming years. As a rider Iím willing to sacrifices all to obtain my objectives.

Returning to Vicente Belda. He said after the Mont Ventoux stage that physically you were very strong but not so much mentally. What's your opinion on this?

Permanently I seek to improve in all the aspects, the physical tiredness and the exhaustion to carry on is very hard. When I have a bad day, I try to remove all of myself so I donít fall completely through, but try to fight with all I got, which I showed in last year's Vuelta and Tour too, Iím capable of doing.

How is your relation with Oscar Sevilla who shares the joint leadership in team?

We have a very good relation; there has always been a mutual relation of support, and I have always been in disposition to help him out when I fail through. In fact, previous in my career I have put myself on the helper's role without any problem, because it always nice to have two cards to play out in a race like the Tour, for example in this year's Tour, Oscar had a physical problem and I fortunately could respond in the end.

Vicente Belda said before the start of the Tour that you had to convince him your were the strongest within your team. Is he convinced now?

Iím not the type of person that says Iím the strongest after L.Armstrong, I prefer making those statements sitting on my bike, letting my legs do the talking.

How many more years of cycling are left in you?

It's hard to say, maybe four or five. I plan to race til Iím thirty-five but it's very hard to say if you last that long.

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